Tales of a Volunteer at the Chilly Half Marathon

We woke up to temperatures of about -15C (5F) with a windchill closer to -25 (-13). As I layered up in my warmest clothing I thought of the runners and knew I would have a difficult time figuring out what to wear if I had been racing that day. I hate being over-dressed, but being under-dressed in those temperatures can be dangerous, especially with all the standing around before and after the race. Thankfully, the sun was out in full force all day to take some of the edge off. As it turns out, I saw runners dressed in everything from shorts (!!!) to ski suits.

Random observations from chip removal:

• It was exciting to see the 5K speed demons coming in ~16:00; just don’t get in their way!

• Many women crossed the finish line in tears – what a powerful thing to witness.

• Why do some people feel the need to tie the timing chip right into their laces? I untied and retied so many laces, I felt like a kindergarten teacher.

• Most people offered up the wrong foot when we asked to remove their chip.

• Latex gloves are a good idea. You never know what could end up on those shoes; snot, spit, (*gulp*) urine!

• Fluorescent yellow Mizuno volunteer hats are awesome.

• Always tell the runners that they look good… even when they don’t.

• Upside-down plastic bins are not the best idea as a foot stool. When a person doesn’t have any feeling in their legs, they are quite possibly going to put their shoe right through it.

• There is nothing like the gratitude of a runner who has just completed a race. Almost everyone said thank you (and many profusely!) One lady even told me she loves me.

• Note to self: don’t guzzle water while the volunteer is bent over your shoe. There is a good chance you are dripping (drooling?) water all over his or her head.


I had the opportunity to see many of my friends at the finish line. It was dirty work at times and crazy busy as the 1:30 – 2:30 half marathoners poured in, but still fun and totally rewarding. I would do it again in a heart beat.

Special thanks to all the runners who made it worth while to sit out in the freezing cold on a Sunday morning. It was a great experience to be on the ‘other’ side.

I would like to send out a very special congratulations to my friend Erin who ran her first half marathon yesterday, despite missing three weeks of key training while her baby boy was in the hospital last month. She did absolutely awesome! Until yesterday I only knew Erin virtually, so it was wonderful to finally meet her at the finish line after following her journey from zero to 21.1. You rock, Erin!


Random photos:

Diggin’ the volunteer hats (that’s my sister’s BF):

Volunteers need to eat too:

Checking out our cool hats in a reflective building:



I did manage to squeeze in a quick 4K when I got home (it had warmed up significantly by the afternoon) before heading to a Birthday party. I’m hoping to build the mileage up slightly this week before starting a new half marathon program next week. I have a new goal race and I’ll tell you about that soon.

Thanks for reading!


29 thoughts on “Tales of a Volunteer at the Chilly Half Marathon

  1. So cool! Love the hats too. Fun! OMG – I totally LOL at your observations. I wouldn’t even THINK about that stuff on shoes – but you’re totally right. And yup – I’ve offered up the wrong shoe before. I’m lucky to even remember I have feet sometimes. HA!

  2. Excellent reflection on everything; I haven’t volunteered at a race since before I was really a runner, definitely something I want to do some day.

  3. Some of those chip removal observations are HILARIOUS.I’ve totally laced my chip onto my shoes. Thank goodness not recently ;)So awesome you volunteered!

  4. I am totally laughing because I can relate. I wanted a full body plastic because grateful runners would hug me after crossing the finish line. While I enjoy sweating….I don’t like other people’s sweat. *shudder*Great job volunteering. It is always great for good stories.

  5. I’m glad you volunteered. I feel like that is a great way to stay close to the racing community while you are recovering. Never thought about the latex gloves, but good call.and…the gratitude thing is totally true!!! Im pretty sure I said thankyou to everyone right after my last half, its really the only words you can get out cus you are just so damn glad to be done!

  6. LOL at Carly’s comment! I hugged Marlene after I finished and I felt bad later!! It was great seeing you at the finish line! Thanks for volunteering.

  7. Good job and thank you for volunteering! I swear I didn’t tie the time chip into laces but the volunteer who did the chip removal for me had to cut the red plastic so many times as I secured it really well on my laces 🙂

  8. Great job…I think my hub was beside your sister’s bf for the 5km duties..he had a very distinctive Vancouver 2010 hat on for his duties.The volunteers make the day..I said thanks to everyone I can across and so appreciate what you guys do.

  9. What a cool experience. When I was a kid I always loved watching the St. George marathoners cross the finish line (still do) Glad you were able to get your run in as well. Have a great week.

  10. Thats soooo cold!!! I wouldnt even volunteer if it were so cold, but I guess since there were runners racing, may as well be there for support :). Awesome hat!

  11. The first thing that came to mind: “THAT’S QUITE THE MUFFIN!” LOL Seriously it could have fed a family hahaha I love to volunteer, I wish I would do it more often but it seems I need to be injured and not being able to run at all to do it!

  12. Yours is the second post I have read about being a volunteer or a spectator and I really feel like I would like to do it soon! Your comment on tying the laces like a Kindergarten teacher really made me giggle. 🙂

  13. i love the hat! sounds like a great time, you make spectating/volunteering sound even better than actually running! i can agree with the runner-thank-you syndrome. i know i say it to the police officers directing traffic, the people handing me water, the person un-chipping me, the person handing me a finisher’s medal, the person giving me a banana… lol. and hey i tie the chip in my laces too! just never was a fan of the zip tie thingy. although i usually bend down and get it off myself before making someone else tie my shoe 🙂

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